In our first part, entitled: ‘You Bigot, Can Political Correctness Keep People from Being Offended,?’ we looked at how political correctness tries to protect people (especially women, ethnic and sexual minorities) from being offended. As a result, ‘freedom of speech’ takes a big hit. Even the slim possibility that one minorities might be offended means the other party must be closed down verbally … just in case.
In Part Two, entitled ‘I’m Offended: What Should This Really Mean?’ we learned a Biblical description about this miserable condition. It is a more sensible and far more enduring description than the politically correct one.
Today, the broader cultural scene is about the ‘New Tolerance.’ Political correctness (PC) is the mother tongue of the ‘New Tolerance’ and those who lead the charge in politically correctness are the patron saints. Jonathan Sarfati in ‘The Tyranny of Tolerance’ says “Not long ago, the word ‘tolerance’ meant ‘bearing or putting up with someone or something not especially liked.’ However, now the word has been redefined to ‘all values, all beliefs, all lifestyles, all truth claims are equal.’ Denying this makes a person ‘intolerant,’ and worthy of contempt.’ That’s putting it mildly.
Failure to conform to the New Tolerance with politically correct language will invite a torrent of abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, ridicule, ostracism, ‘shouting down,’ insults, sensitivity training and the most offensive of behaviour you can imagine, even though the abusers are doing this to prevent offence! Student organisations on campus are prohibiting speakers who they deem politically incorrect (normally social and political conservatives). They even practice ‘non-platforming,’ meaning they refuse to speak at a public meeting with those whom they disagree. University heads have been forced out of office for violating PC.
Are things really that bad? Try speaking positively in the blogosphere about traditional heterosexual marriage, without saying a negative word about anyone or anything else, and watch what happens. Accusations like ‘hater,’ ‘intolerant,’ and ‘bigot’ will be thrown at you. Even Christian organisation are disciplining and firing people who do not conform to the theology of tolerance.
Why is this phenomena so serious?
A. It enshrines people in a permanent ‘victimhood’ culture, which is very damaging in the long run. Christians are called to ‘victory,’ not ‘victimhood.’
B. The defenders of the offended become the most offensive of all (a true double-standard), often times in a very vile manner.
C. Our beloved ‘Freedom of Speech’ comes under serious threat, to the point of extinction.
D. Finally, this is all an exercise in futility: Protecting people from offence is a lost cause in a fallen world, and does nothing to help them grow strong and mature;
A student complained at the Oklahoma Wesleyan University that he felt ‘uncomfortable,’ ‘offended,’ and ‘victimised’ when the university president gave a homily about love from I Corinthians 13, which is the ‘love chapter.’ Yet instead of pandering to the offended student, the president, Dr. Everett Piper, wrote in a blistering blog that went viral, ‘This is not a daycare. It’s a university.’ Dr. Piper went on to criticise a culture that teaches younger people to be ‘self-absorbed and narcissistic.’ Remember, this was at a Christian university! (. Accessed 19/02/16).
Years ago, this author learned a maxim: Do not deliberately offend and do not be offended. This is wisdom! After all, to be offended is like a person who stumbles on the road, injures himself or herself, but refuses to get up. Another analogy is that an offended person builds a ‘Berlin Wall’ around themselves. Though this wall is meant to protect, it actually becomes a self-made prison! As long as the person remains offended, they will continue to be imprisoned.
So what can we do to avoid getting offended and offensive? As always, the Word of God is our guide:
1. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18): When you are ‘filled with the Spirit,’ you have the fruit of the Spirit which includes ‘love,’ ‘joy,’ ‘peace.’ Offended people lack peace, but Spirit-filled people have enough peace in their own hearts that they can give the overflow to others. When you are filled with the Spirit, there is no room for offence;
2. Forgiveness: People who go around saying they are ‘hurt’ are almost always people who fail to practice a fundamental Christian virtue - forgiveness. This is not an option. Forgiveness is Christianity 101. The consequences of not forgiving are severe - continued ‘hurt’ and God’s refusal to forgive us our sins (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:32-35; Mark 11:25-26). Forgiveness does not let the other party off the hook (retribution must not come from us, but God, according to Romans 12:19); it sets us free from their offensiveness so we can get on with life. After all, an offensive person is offensive because they have problems; when they offend you, then they successfully transfer their problem to you - so that their problem becomes yours, too. Forgiveness sets you free from the other party’s problems and from any hurt that it causes;
3. Maturity: Perpetually being offended is a mark of emotional and spiritual immaturity. See the description of immaturity in I Corinthians 3:1-3. Yet, when you grow up spiritually, the things that once bothered you bother no more. Hebrews 6:1 exhorts us to aim for perfection (maturity). Mature people let go of petty offences, press on to fulfil their call; they don’t have time to mope around being offended;
4. God’s Word in the Heart: One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Psalm 119:165: Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. This is a promise worth grasping. When you ‘love God’s law,’ namely, His Word - you read it, study it, memorise it, and meditate on it regularly - you actually grow up in such away that you no longer are easily offended. This is very liberating. The same word in the heart that keeps you from sin (v. 11) is the Word that protects you from offence.
Put these into practice and say good-bye to being offended and you can get on fulfilling your spiritual call.